Toni Jannotta: My Little Heart, Ruthie

by Bea Willis

Normally we don’t review books, but this was not just a book or children’s story.  It struck me more as a music suite that additionally offered narration and a story that is about uplifting all humans from their hurt and pain.  Lately with the climate of hatred growing in our society, this was a breath of fresh air that reached beyond the lines trending news and delved into the subject of being human frailty and vulnerable, and how through friendships one can rise above the mire and prevail.

At the hub of this idea is writer, composer, dancer, and visionary Toni Jannotta. She describes the concept best; “My Little Heart, Ruthie is the story of a heart in isolation that must learn to free itself. Told through rhyme and complimented with a jazz inspired musical suite underscoring the narration, we follow Ruthie’s journey, aided by her friend Clyde, as she shares her story and finds her freedom.”

It was Jannotta’s goal with My Little Heart, Ruthie to reach all survivors of emotional abuse, young and old, with the message of hope and the healing that comes through knowing the abuse was never their fault.  The book and audio companion offer a full media rich presentation with captivating illustrations by artist Jennifer Mones that allow the music composed by Jannotta to flower in all its glory, with bursting color and sound.

Jannotta’s suite is filled with poignant, heartfelt movements, filled with stirring performances by Carol Robbins on harp, Jon Crosse on trumpet, Granville “Danny” Young on acoustic bass, Paul Tavenner, drums and Toni Jannotta herself as the narrator and on piano.

The movements are filled with gorgeous colorizations, empathy and move through a myriad of emotions.  You could almost hear the music being recreated as an opus one day. Each player eloquently contributes their instrument voices, but most of all it is Jannotta’s suite writing that shines above all else, included in this praise is the story itself, the depth of message conveyed through instrumentation and Jannotta herself narrating the story is paramount.  Jannotta truly is a visionary with multiple talents and one I hope to see on the book scene much more often.

Features:  The music is available on its own, as a download or a digipak.  Overall, paired together, the book and CD is reminiscent of musical stories told children at bedtime. So, we strongly recommend you purchase both.

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